Pune, November 6 THE Kondhwa Khurd land scam, where glaring irregularities in 80 land deals worth Rs 100 crore was brought to light by The Indian Express on October 25, is now snowballing into something much larger with 305 cases now getting unearthed and the size of the scam is put in excess of Rs 300 crore. Though it was an RTI application that put the Kondhwa Khurd land record tampering issue under the scanner, it was only after this newspaper broke the story that the department enhanced the scope of the inquiry thus bringing under its net more cases of falsification of entries in 7/12 extracts.
The land records department officials at the district collectorate are planning to file criminal complaints against those involved in preparing the bogus correction deeds and they now claim what’s been unearthed is only the tip of the iceberg and the scam could well run into well over Rs 1,000 crore. They also indicate that the names of a few prominent builders and land sharks will crop up during the course of the investigation.
The city police have begun investigations into the case with two crime branch officers have been assigned the job. “A probe is being conducted into the case and action will be initiated once it is completed in a week’s time. It is a very big case involving bogus correction deeds and two officers have been given the task of meticulously investigating the case,” Deputy commissioner of police (Crime) Anil Kumbhare said.
“As many as 305 cases of correction deeds of various types have been detected during investigation. A close scrutiny of the documents was being conducted and suo motu criminal complaints will be filed against those found guilty. Action will be initiated against employees involved in the scam,” said Tanaji Shinde, haveli sub-divisional tehsildar, the officer in-charge for land records.
The scam involved the tampering of original records in the 7/12 extract, by replacing the names of genuine owners with that of others and also tamper with the size of the plots, whereby many found that their landholdings had got reduced in the land records.
The original owners rarely got to know till it is too late that their property had been grabbed by some stranger who would by then have sold it to a third party.
“The scam is much bigger than what has been brought to light so far. A land mafia is engaged in this racket in connivance with the land record officials and it is not limited only to Kondhwa Khurd. The role of PMC and land record officials needs to be investigated,” said Altaf Naik, whose RTI application led to the scam getting unearthed.
On October 25, the Express had written about the 80 cases where land records were falsified and had put the scam size at Rs 100 crore. Officers in the land records department now admit that the scam has been going on unchecked since 1980.
The inquiry, that began on October 19 after Naik moved a RTI application, threw light on 80 bogus ‘correction deeds’ of land documents pertaining to 10 acres of residential plot on prime urban land. Currently, the cost of land is Rs 3,500 per sq ft in Kondhwa Khurd.
Re: Kondhwa Khurd land scam now pegged at Rs 300 cr
Kondhwa land scam: Over to PMC now
Pune, November 12 The focus of ongoing investigations into the Rs 300 crore Kondhwa landscam has now shifted to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) city engineer’s office with strict action being proposed against the guilty. According to PMC officials, revoking the sanctioned building plans of those builders who have allegedly submitted forged documents to procure building permissions from the PMC is on the cards.
“I have instructed the department officials to investigate the case. Strict action will be taken once the inquiry is completed,” city engineer Prashant Waghmare said.
When asked about how the building construction plans were sanctioned on submission of tampered 7/ 12 extracts, Waghmare said, “The building construction plans are sanctioned as per the 7/12 extract . We see the 7/12 extract and the plan is sanctioned accordingly.”
The Kondhwa land scam was unearthed after an RTI application was moved by Bhavani Peth resident Altaf Naik.The land records department enhanced the scope of the inquiry and detected over 305 cases in addition to the 80 cases of bogus correction deeds which came to light after the RTI inspection.
Meanwhile, Naik, the man who blew the lid on the scam alleged that PMC was not swift in taking action against those involved. “The PMC officials should expedite their investigation into these crystal clear cases of bogus correction deeds and cancel the building plans in one stroke. Instead, they want to buy time and want to put the issue on the backburner. The PMC building permission department now wants me to do their work. It is an obvious case of fraud and still they are going slow with the case,” Naik said.
The crime branch of the city police has questioned a landowner from Kondhwa in connection with the correction deeds. A senior crime branch officer said that the police will soon write to the land records department about the case, mentioning the suspected involvement of some land record department officials.